How To Make Mental Health A Priority During Quarantine
We're currently living in a time that defies logic, boundaries, and social courtesy. Sweatsuits are now perfectly acceptable daywear, and time is marked - not by hours, or by meals - but by the slow ticking sound of seconds as they pass. It's madness, it's confusing, it's overwhelming. But it's also an opportunity.
For what? For slowing down. For focusing on process over product. For finding small joys. And for prioritizing mental health.
Tip #1: Limit Your Complaining
Robyn D'Angelo, LMFT, says "We're all tired, our nervous systems are taxed, and we're a little short on patience. This might have you thinking the people with you are the only ones you can vent to. They're not and they shouldn't be. Call a friend. Text your neighbor, if you know them. Or seek out a therapist." Another good option? Your Relish coach. They're just a click away, and they're there 24/7 - for you.
Tip #2: Seek Out Normalcy
Wake up at your normal time. Exercise at the normal time. Have lunch at your normal time. "Focus on the things you can control in your life at this time, rather than obsessing about the uncontrollable state of the pandemic," says Patricia Celan, MD, a psychiatry resident at Dalhousie University.
Tip #3: Set Tiny Goals
- Read 5 pages of a book every day
- Cook a new meal
- Take a bubble bath
- Go for a walk (even 10 minutes) every day
Tiny, baby, teensy-weensy, microscopic goals. This is not the time to "train for a marathon" or to "learn Spanish" unless of course, you have the time and mental capacity to take on such lofty goals. The dopamine dump we get from checking things off our checklists - even the littlest goals like these ones - cannot be discounted. Setting small goals turns into daily joys, daily joys turn into weekly routines, and weekly routines will get us through the months (?) ahead.
Tip #4: Restrict Your News Intake
Staying informed is one thing, sliding into a black hole of information is another. A good way to create boundaries between yourself and the news is to change your medium: if you typically watch the news, then the TV could arguably stay on all day, becoming ambient background noise that your consciousness is no longer paying attention to, but your subconscious is. Try reading 2-4 articles about COVID-19 updates a day, and a couple about non-quarantine related news. But cut it off after that. And while you're at it, try to limit social media intake, too.
Tip #5: Get Outside
Studies have proven that 2 hours a week spent outdoors drastically reduces the amount of stress, anxiety, and depression we internalize. That works out to around 15 minutes a day, which we can all find, no matter how packed our schedules. The benefits of feeling Vitamin D, your toes in the grass, or - if you're in a colder climate - just witnessing the vastness of the great outdoors, are a powerful reminder that these problems, no matter how significant, are temporary.
Although it feels like we're living in the movie Groundhog Day, our chance of departure is definitely 100%. We are 100% sure that someday, weeks or months from now, normal life will resume. But in the meantime, take advantage of this time to prioritize yourself, your partner, and your loved ones. Invest in them right now. Spend time on yourself. Reach out to your Relish coaches or your Relish community in Connect. Remember that no matter how socially distant we are - we're actually in this together.